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Thursday, 10 October, 2019, 17 : 15 PM [IST]

Experience France - Setting the record straight with 36-member delegation

Disha Shah Ghosh | Mahabalipuram
The French exhibitor delegation at the event with the Consul General and team Atout France India

Converging in the South Indian town of Mahabalipuram, a 36-member-strong delegation of French exhibitors brought to the fore an entire gamut of tourism offerings to showcase the best that the European nation has in store for a varied profile of travellers from India. This was also the biggest delegation of French product and services that came to India since the board set up operations here and at a time when France has witnessed a surge of 44% in visas from Tamil Nadu alone, primarily from Chennai, in 2018 after opening its annexe in 2017. The B2B showcase was graced by the presence of Mme Catherine Suard, Consul General of France in Pondicherry.

Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France India, believes that the idea through these offsite is to reach out and cover the entire geographical distribution of a vast country like India. "We are extremely pleased with the response our workshop has received, on both fronts, buyers and sellers. This formidable presence of our partners reinforces the belief that India is an important source market for France. We are grateful to the support extended by the travel trade fraternity for all our endeavours. We are confident that the exchanges at the workshop will pave the way for greater synergies between our two countries."

Mme Catherine Suard, Consul General of France in Pondicherry with Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France India

According to Munshaw, exhibitors displayed interest to come to India based on the fact that they see potential or are already generating good business from this market. This allowed Atout France to showcase the diversity and vibrancy of France through a varied exhibitor profile. "We have exhibitors from Paris, Provence region, South of France, Northern France, Northwest, French Alps and the Reunion Island. We are happy with the eclectic mix of cities, vineyards, mountains, beaches, lakes since this allows us to showcase the entire country, and helps in promoting France as a year-round destination."

From January to December 2018, France recorded a growth of 16% from India. The growth has been driven primarily from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru. "Besides these metros, Ahmedabad has shown immense potential, while Jaipur, Pune and Chandigarh are also gaining momentum."

Over a period of three days, the delegation interacted with 85 representatives of the Indian travel fraternity from key markets. The delegation comprised a versatile mix of transport companies, hoteliers, regional tourism board, local tourist offices and a strong presence of delegates from the French Alps fortifying the tourism boards efforts to position France as a winter destination. In addition, France's overseas territories were also represented in the form of Reunion Island. A selection of soirées allowed for interactive exchanges between agents and suppliers. The workshop also unveiled Atout France's new communication branding, "Explore France" which will be consciously integrated in all marketing and communication initiatives henceforth.

As part of their strategy in India, Atout France conducts training, organises workshops, undertakes sales visits and joint promotions with tour operators and organises FAM trips. On the B2C front, the France Tourism Development Agency runs social media and influencer campaigns, participates in platforms like LLW and works with Indo French Chamber of Commerce to reach out to corporate travellers.

For France which is increasingly gaining acceptance as a stand-alone choice for Indian travellers, 'Experience France 2019' held at Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa, was the third edition of the offsite with the previous annual editions held in Jaipur and Goa.

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